Madrid is Using AI to Tackle Waste Littering


  • FCC Medio Ambiente is piloting an AI system in Madrid to detect improperly disposed waste.
  • The company said AI could reduce waste inspection time from 5 to 2 hours.
  • AI algorithms have proven useful not just in waste management but also in controlling food waste.

One of the largest waste management providers, FCC Medio Ambiente, wants to install AI systems to detect waste items improperly disposed of in waste bins, starting in Madrid, Spain. 

Improper waste disposal, particularly littering or dumping outside designated bins, has been a major headache for cities and residents. 

Madrid Turns to AI to Resolve Improper Waste Disposal

Not only does it create an unsightly mess, but it can also result in health and other environmental risks, as well as make waste collection more difficult and time-consuming for sanitation crews.

Per the report Monday, FCC Medio Ambiente will pilot the AI system in three neighborhoods of southern Madrid, including Carabanchel, Usera, and Villaverde. 

The company said the AI algorithm has been trained to recognize small and large objects and immediately communicate their presence and location to a centralized monitoring hub.

The AI sensors will be mounted on the vehicles of the company’s inspectors patrolling the streets, per the report. “From there, the system will find where the nearest waste removal vehicle is located and assign it the task of picking up the bulk,” the report adds. 

Previously, the whole process would have taken the inspectors five hours to manually complete. However, FCC Medio Ambiente said the system reduces the time to only two hours. 

Hotels, Restaurants Deploy AI in Trash Bins to Spy on Food Waste

Not just in waste management, AI algorithms are proven useful in the control of food waste. 

Food waste is a big problem globally. According to reports, it accounts for 8% to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2022, up to 1 billion metric tons of food went to waste, according to the UN Environment Program. 

Some supermarkets and restaurants are beginning to deploy AI cameras on dumpsters to spy on what food people throw away. For instance, one hotel chain had learned through the system that its breakfast croissants were too big, so much so that many ended up in the trash bin, the Japan Times reported. 

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Ibiam Wayas

Ibiam is an optimistic crypto journalist. Five years from now, he sees himself establishing a unique crypto media outlet that will breach the gap between the crypto world and the general public. He loves to associate with like-minded individuals and collaborate with them on similar projects. He spends much of his time honing his writing and critical thinking skills.

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